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Looking For Life After Death: Facebook And The Way We Grieve - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Looking For Life After Death: Facebook And The Way We Grieve

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It's been said that all of human life is a struggle to find our immortality. Whether it's having a baby, creating great art or public discourse, or striving toward career ambitions, it all means we're hoping to create something that lives on after we go.

Which is why Facebook pages are creating so much talk in the funeral industry.

"It can be a good thing," says Alex Reynolds, of Hansen Runsvold Funeral Home in Fargo. His industry is still of two minds on how to handle Facebook's life after death question. He says it can be a good outlet for grieving people to connect with one another and seek support, or simply a place to go to remember, like a gravesite is. Some families want the loved one's Facebook page taken down after death, but without a password, that's impossible. Facebook now has a function to turn profile pages into memorials, but even that requires proof of death, like an obituary or newspaper report.

Jordi Braaten has been administering her friend Eleni Wilson's Facebook page for almost exactly one year. She and Wilson's family moved to turn it into a memorial shortly after the seventeen-year-old died of a sudden brain aneurysm last October.

"They just changed it," says Braaten. "It used to say, 'Eleni Wilson' every time we posted anything. Like 'Eleni Wilson likes this.' And people would be alarmed."

People from all over the country are still posting on Wilson's page, almost as if she's still reading it. Braaten says she plans to administer the page indefinitely, in part because of the sense of comfort it brings people.

"They have a hard day, and they come here," she says, her voice softening, as she reads over the entries on the page. "And then they post, and it's okay." Which, in many ways, is a fitting legacy of friendship for a girl like Eleni Wilson -- or anyone -- to leave behind.

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